News & Updates

In cooperation with the American Ambulance Association, we and others have created a running compilation of local and national news stories relating to EMS delivery. Since January 2021, 2,093 news reports have been chronicled, with 46% highlighting the EMS staffing crisis, and 34% highlighting the funding crisis. Combined reports of staffing and/or funding account for 80% of the media reports! 104 reports cite EMS system closures/agencies departing communities, and 92% of the news articles reference staffing challenges, funding issues and response times.


Click below for an up to date list of these news stories, with links to the source documents.

Media Log Rolling Totals as of 7-9-24.xlsx

  • 20 May 2024 6:09 AM | Matt Zavadsky (Administrator)

    Latest state law designed to help assure patients are not in the middle of billing disputes between providers and insurers.

    A downloadable copy of the bill is at the link in the news report.

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    Here’s a new law to help Hoosiers with surprise ambulance bills

    by: Jana Garrett

    May 17, 2024

    https://www.tristatehomepage.com/news/indiana-news/heres-a-new-law-to-help-hoosiers-with-surprise-ambulance-bills/

    HENDERSON, Ky. (WEHT) – According to the Indiana House Republicans, State Representative Tim O’Brien supported a new law that would will require health insurance companies to reimburse for ambulance services that are not part of a person’s coverage plan.

    According to a report by Health Affairs, about 28% of emergency trips in a ground ambulance result in a potential surprise bill. Officials say these bills can place a “significant” financial burden on patients, often leaving them with “overwhelming” expenses they may struggle to pay.

    Rep. O’Brien says going forward, those who use an out-of-network ambulance service will be protected from having to pay more for that service than their in-network rate plus either their deductible or copay. Out-of-network ambulance providers must now accept either the patient’s in-network rate plus their deductible or copay, or the 400% of the Medicare rate for those services.

    Rep. O’Brien says currently, there is no set time frame in which an ambulance service must receive payment from health plan providers. Under this new law, service providers must receive payment within 30 days of the claim being filed.

    Officials say House Enrolled Act 1385 goes into effect July 1.


    Here’s a new law to help Hoosiers with surprise ambulance bills


  • 15 May 2024 1:31 PM | Matt Zavadsky (Administrator)

    Excellent research project published in the peer-reviewed journal Pre-Hospital Emergency Care.

    It’s no surprise to many of us that the study found only 6% of 1.7 million EMS responses reviewed involved a time-critical EMS intervention.

    The results from this study could help EMS systems and communities grapple with appropriate resource deployment, when using an evidence-based Emergency Medical Dispatch (EMD) system.

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    Dispatch Categories as Indicators of Out-of-Hospital Time Critical Interventions and Associated Emergency Department Outcomes

    Matthew J. Levy, Remle P. Crowe, Heidi Abraham, Anna Bailey, Matt Blue, Reinhard Ekl, Eric Garfinkel, Joshua B. Holloman, Jeff Hutchens, Ryan Jacobsen, Colin Johnson, Asa Margolis, Ruben Troncoso, Jefferson G. Williams & J. Brent Myers

    Published online: 29 Apr 2024

    https://doi.org/10.1080/10903127.2024.2342015

    https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/10903127.2024.2342015

    Abstract

    Objectives

    Emergency medical services (EMS) systems increasingly grapple with rising call volumes and workforce shortages, forcing systems to decide which responses may be delayed. Limited research has linked dispatch codes, on-scene findings, and emergency department (ED) outcomes. This study evaluated the association between dispatch categorizations and time-critical EMS responses defined by prehospital interventions and ED outcomes. Secondarily, we proposed a framework for identifying dispatch categorizations that are safe or unsafe to hold in queue.

    Methods

    This retrospective, multi-center analysis encompassed all 9-1-1 responses from 8 accredited EMS systems between 1/1/2021 and 06/30/2023, utilizing the Medical Priority Dispatch System (MPDS). Independent variables included MPDS Protocol numbers and Determinant levels. EMS treatments and ED diagnoses/dispositions were categorized as time-critical using a multi-round consensus survey. The primary outcome was the proportion of EMS responses categorized as time-critical. A non-parametric test for trend was used to assess the proportion of time-critical responses Determinant levels. Based on group consensus, Protocol/Determinant level combinations with at least 120 responses (1 per week) were further categorized as safe to hold in queue (<1% time-critical intervention by EMS and <5% time-critical ED outcome) or unsafe to hold in queue (>10% time-critical intervention by EMS or >10% time-critical ED outcome).

    Results

    Of 1,715,612 EMS incidents, 6% (109,250) involved a time-critical EMS intervention. Among EMS transports with linked outcome data (543,883), 12% had time-critical ED outcomes. The proportion of time-critical EMS interventions increased with Determinant level (OMEGA: 1%, ECHO: 38%, p-trend < 0.01) as did time-critical ED outcomes (OMEGA: 3%, ECHO: 31%, p-trend < 0.01). Of 162 unique Protocols/Determinants with at least 120 uses, 30 met criteria for safe to hold in queue, accounting for 8% (142,067) of incidents. Meanwhile, 72 Protocols/Determinants met criteria for unsafe to hold, accounting for 52% (883,683) of incidents. Seven of 32 ALPHA level Protocols and 3/17 OMEGA level Protocols met the proposed criteria for unsafe to hold in queue.

    Conclusions

    In general, Determinant levels aligned with time-critical responses; however, a notable minority of lower acuity Determinant level Protocols met criteria for unsafe to hold. This suggests a more nuanced approach to dispatch prioritization, considering both Protocol and Determinant level factors.


  • 10 May 2024 10:00 AM | Matt Zavadsky (Administrator)

    Another example of the economic crisis in EMS, regardless of provider type, even in communities where Public Provider GEMT revenue per Medicaid service runs >$1,000.

    It will be interesting to see if the PP-GEMT programs change, based on the on-going CMS audits of cost reports that are the basis for the PP-GEMT reimbursements.

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    With profits slow to materialize, San Diego considers another overhaul of its ambulance service

    The mayor’s proposed budget would take $6 million in projected surplus from the city’s ambulance fund. But projections have been off so far — and the independent budget analyst just cautioned against such a move.

    By David Garrick

    May 9, 2024

    https://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/politics/story/2024-05-09/with-profits-slow-to-materialize-san-diego-considers-another-overhaul-of-its-ambulance-service

    SAN DIEGO —  Ambulance service in San Diego may soon undergo significant changes despite the recent success of a new model where private ambulances transport patients and the city oversees deployment, staffing and billing.

    The new set-up, called the alliance model, has improved emergency response times since it began in October, and fire officials say it’s on track to generate millions in revenue the city could use to enhance services.

    But Chief Colin Stowell says he will soon launch a comprehensive analysis to determine whether to stick with the alliance model, bring ambulance service completely in-house or go with some sort of hybrid approach.

    Bringing the service in-house means ambulance workers would become city employees and no longer work for private ambulance companies. Los Angeles, San Francisco and Chula Vista have in-house ambulance service.

    “The alliance model has stabilized our system, but where do we take that?” Stowell told the City Council’s Budget Review Committee last week. “We’re in for a very exploratory next year on the EMS front.”

    Stowell estimated that fire officials, with help from a consultant, will come forward this winter with recommendations for what the city’s ambulance system should look like moving into the future.

    The analysis will evaluate the three options — alliance, in-house or hybrid — on emergency response times, financial risks, financial benefits and other factors, he said.

    “Those are all going to be options on the table, and we’ll evaluate the risks and benefits of those,” Stowell said.

    Officials had been expecting millions in profits from the switch to the alliance model — but that has been slow to materialize because of delayed payments for ambulance transports and what city officials characterize as flawed projections.

    Before the switch, private ambulance company Falck USA handled staffing, deployment and billing for the city. Under the alliance model, the city took over those roles — and the financial risks and potential benefits that come with them.

    The shift was prompted by frustration with poor response times and a new state law that boosts reimbursement rates on ambulance transports for government agencies. A consultant had estimated the city would generate $15 million in surplus cash during the alliance model’s first three years.

    The consultant projected $6.5 million during the ongoing fiscal year that ends in June, another $3 million in fiscal year 2025 and $5.5 million in fiscal 2026.

    But Stowell said the city is certainly going to lose money this year. Fire officials have projected a $6.1 million surplus in fiscal 2025, but Stowell and the city’s independent budget analyst said that’s also in doubt.

    Stowell said the main problem has been the long lag times between when an ambulance transport takes place and when the city gets paid by Medicare, MediCal, private insurers and the state reimbursement program.

    “There is a significant lag time, and we have to remember that the money will eventually come in and we will eventually be whole,” Stowell said. “We’re still on track.”

    But Stowell also conceded that some of the projections from last year have turned out to be off the mark.

    He said projections for collection rates and the percentage of patients who are covered privately seem to be accurate, but that estimates of call volumes and state reimbursement money have been off.

    “We’re working completely on projections that were done,” he said. “We are seeing things that maybe weren’t as accurate on those projections.”

    The boosted reimbursements come under the state’s public provider ground emergency transportation inter-governmental transfer program.

    But Stowell stressed that the lag time was the main problem, explaining that the city was more than $8 million in the red during the first month of the alliance model last October.

    The city pays roughly $9 million a month total to primary ambulance provider Falck USA and secondary provider American Medical Response for ambulance services on a per-hour basis.

    Because of lag time, the city received only $135,000 in payments last October. That’s why it was well over $8 million in the red for that month.

    While payments and reimbursements have been rising, city officials don’t expect to be in the black during the ongoing fiscal year and have expressed doubts about fiscal 2025.

    Councilmember Marni von Wilpert, who leads the council’s Public Safety Committee, said last week she was disappointed that the city is not meeting the earlier projections.

    Stowell said last year he hoped to have enough excess revenue to add new programs like nurse triage, telemedicine and street-based interventions.

    Signaling a major shift in priorities, he said last week that the goal is to have enough excess revenue to have adequate “seed money” to possibly bring ambulance service in-house.

    But Mayor Todd Gloria’s proposed budget for fiscal 2025, which relies significantly on one-time revenue sources to close a large deficit, anticipates taking $6 million in projected surplus from the city’s ambulance fund.

    The city’s independent budget analyst cautioned last week that such a move could be problematic because of the alliance model’s disappointing results so far.

    The IBA says revenue will exceed expenses under the alliance model in fiscal 2025, but probably not by enough to generate the $6 million Gloria wants to take away to balance the city budget.

    The IBA says Gloria should consider reducing that amount when he releases a revised version of his budget proposal next week.

    Stowell recommended waiting until this fall to revisit the situation. He said the doubts fire officials expressed to the IBA were partly based on being uncomfortable making projections 14 months into the future.


  • 9 May 2024 9:20 AM | Matt Zavadsky (Administrator)

    Our neighbors to the north have typically been a bit more transformative in EMS delivery than we in the states!

    We know this because a couple of the AIMHI member agencies are high performance / high value members of AIMHI.

    This model makes a lot of clinical, operational, and financial sense, and allows skilled EMS clinicians to not only respond to the low-acuity 911 calls, but also allows EMS crews in the field to triage patients who do not meet clinical criteria for a transport to the ED, to be treated in place, with a CP follow-up visit.

    Very innovative, and patient-centric approach to system redesign!

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    P.E.I.'s new paramedic units aimed at reducing demands on ambulances, ERs

    Units could help free up ambulances in rural parts like Souris, West Prince

    Stu Neatby · Journalist

    5/8/24

    https://www.saltwire.com/atlantic-canada/news/peis-new-paramedic-units-aimed-at-reducing-demands-on-ambulances-ers-100963025/

    Health decision-makers say a new non-ambulatory unit could help keep more ambulances in rural areas like West Prince and Eastern Kings.

    On May 7, Health Minister Mark McLane announced the province’s ambulatory provider, Island EMS, has officially launched new community paramedic response units (CPRU) – paramedic units intended to help 911 calls for patients with lower acuity needs.

    McLane said as many as 35 per cent of 911 calls are from patients who don’t need to go to hospitals. He said the new CPRU units will be staffed by advanced care paramedics who can provide in-home treatments or referrals.

    "This could save the patient a ride to the emergency department if they don't need to go there. Paramedics will connect the patient with appropriate care within the community," McLane said at a news conference the Island EMS office in Charlottetown.

    The new units have been operating in an unofficial capacity since the fall, but Tuesday’s announcement signalled that the appropriate policy protocols for these CPRU teams are in place.

    In lieu of ambulances, the CPRU paramedics will be transported via a Chevy Traverse or Subaru Outback stamped with the word "paramedic" on the hood.

    Wait times

    The province’s ambulance response times have grown longer across the board in both urban and rural community over the last year.

    The wait times are longest in Souris, O’Leary and Alberton, which have median response times longer than 20 minutes. This compares to just over 15 minutes in Charlottetown, 12 minutes in Summerside and just over 12 and a half minutes in Stratford.

    James Orchard, general manager of P.E.I. operations for Island EMS, said the new units will help free up ambulances, particularly those based in areas around Souris, Montague, O’Leary and Alberton, to get to emergencies faster.

    Orchard said around half of 911 calls are based in Charlottetown.

    "A lot of times the rural ambulances are being drawn into the centres because that's where the call volumes are. But, of course, all it takes is one call out in a very rural area and now we're behind the eight-ball to get to that call,” Orchard said.

    "These units can handle that volume so that our rural ambulances are not pulled into it.”

    Across P.E.I., the median ambulance response time was 14 minutes and 41 seconds for the period between Jan. 1 and March 31 of 2024. That’s 3 minutes and 24 seconds longer than the same time period in 2023.

    Two of the community paramedic response units will be based in Charlottetown while one will be located in Summerside.

    Helping patients

    Orchard said patients often do not know how to navigate the health system. He said paramedics are well situated to be “advocates and navigators” for patients.

    “People don't know what resources are really, in some cases, just down the street for them. In a lot of those cases, those resources are available, we just don't know about them," he said.

    Dr. Scott Cameron, the provincial medical director for emergency health services, said these units could also help alleviate some of the stresses in emergency rooms.

    “When 911 is called and paramedics arrive on the scene, patients will be triaged. Patients must meet the clinical indicators to be transported to the emergency department,” Cameron said at the May 7 news conference.

    “If they do not meet clinical indicators for transport, Island EMS paramedics will leverage the CPRU team as necessary."

    Tyler Graves, the president of the Paramedic Association of P.E.I. and a member of the new units, says the new units will allow more advanced care paramedics like himself to work to their full scope of practice.

    "It's a huge opportunity for paramedics to just kind of prove that we can practise at a higher level,” Graves said. "But then also for the communities, it helps get people out of the hospital and keeps them out of the hospital if there's things that we can be doing at home."


    Source Article



  • 8 May 2024 4:14 PM | Matt Zavadsky (Administrator)

    This action is helpful, since many EMS systems are using telehealth for service delivery, as well as participating in Hospital at Home programs.

    Further, the extension of the Ambulance Access Act of 2024 is crucial to EMS system sustainability.

    The House Ways and Means Committee has been staunch advocate of advancing the EMS profession! Their actions today are a further demonstration of their commitment to help patient’s access care, and EMS systems.

    Recall that Dr. Ed Racht and I were invited to provide testimony at the Ways and Means Committee Field Hearing at GMR’s North Texas Headquarters. Committee members expressed support for EMS systems, and payment reform to include reimbursement for Treatment in Place (TIP).

    To view the EMS specific parts of that hearing, click this link.

    Following that hearing, Ways and Means Committee Chair, Jason Smith, met with several of us during NAEMT’s EMS on the Hill Day in April!

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    House committee advances bill to extend telehealth rules

    MICHAEL MCAULIFF

    May 08, 2024

    https://www.modernhealthcare.com/politics-policy/telehealth-rules-waiver-extension-congress

    Congress took the first step Wednesday to extend expiring telehealth rules, hospital at home services and other programs aimed at rural hospitals.

    The House Ways and Means Committee passed the Preserving Telehealth, Hospital, and Ambulance Access Act of 2024 by a vote of 31-0, setting it up for passage by the full House later this year.

    The bill would extend for two years telehealth rules adopted during the pandemic that are due to expire at the end of the year, as well as extend similar rules for Medicare's hospital at home program for five years.

    The measure also expands the practitioners eligible to bill Medicare for telehealth services to physical therapists, occupational therapists, audiologists and speech language pathologists. And it allows federally qualified health centers and rural health clinics bill Medicare for telehealth services, and delays in-person visit requirements for remote mental healthcare.

    "One of our top priorities on this committee is helping every American access healthcare in the community where they live, work and raise a family. In rural America, in small towns, families often struggle to get healthcare," Ways and Means Committee Chair Jason Smith (R-Mo.) said. "Without this bill, beneficiaries will no longer be able to talk to their doctors or receive acute hospital care from the comfort of their home, starting at the end of this year."

    While the bill received broad bipartisan support, many of the Democrats on the committee complained that Republicans failed to include significant fraud prevention measures.

    "it's difficult to view this bill as progress with regard to fraud since it gives [the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services] no new authority, and no new enforcement tools," said Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas).

    "There's much more to do here to protect consumers," said the ranking Democrat on the committee, Rep. Richard Neal (Mass.)

    Republicans agreed that more should be done to target fraud, but suggested it should be addressed in a different, broader bill.

    One potentially controversial provision in the bill requires pharmacy benefit managers that work with Medicare Part D plans to de-link the compensation they pay themselves from the rebates they secure based on drugs' high list prices. Rep. Brad Schneider (D-Ill.) said the provision will save the government about $500 million, although official estimates were not yet available. The provision does not apply to the broader commercial market, though Schneider and Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-N.Y.) both called for expansion of the provision to the commercial market. Large PBMs oppose such provisions.

    Other extensions in the bill cover Medicare’s Low Volume Adjustment and the Medicare-Dependent Hospital Program, which give rural hospitals bonus payments, and are due to expire at the end of 2024. The payments would be extended until September 2025. The bill includes a nine-month extension for Medicare add-on payments for ambulance services in areas with poor access. Republicans opposed amendments to add more time to the extensions, saying they were not paid for.

    The committee is still considering several other bills designed to ease stresses on rural hospitals. Among them:

    • The Preserving Emergency Access in Key Sites Act of 2024, which would boost ambulance payments for hospitals in locations that are hard to reach.
    • The Rural Hospital Stabilization Act of 2024 to boost grants to rural hospitals.
    • The Rural Physician Workforce Preservation Act of 2024 to require that 10% of 1,200 recently approved Medicare graduate medical education training slots go to rural hospitals.
    • The Second Chances for Rural Hospitals Act of 2024, which would allow rural hospitals that closed as long ago as 2017 to reopen as Rural Emergency Hospitals, which receive $276,000 monthly payments from Medicare to support 24-hour emergency services.

    Democrats suggested that because of objections they raised, the bills would not pass in the Democratic-controlled Senate. Republicans argued that the House should not worry what the Senate might do.

    Whether the Senate ever takes up the specific bills, passing them through the committee and likely through the full House makes them available for negotiations that are likely to begin once the November elections are over and Congress grapples with unfinished business.

    "Many of these bills won't become law," Neal said. "There's much more we could have done and likely we will do, post-election time."


  • 8 May 2024 4:14 PM | Matt Zavadsky (Administrator)


    Kudos to the team at Atrium Health on this amazing accreditation!

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    Atrium Health Earns First Accreditation in Mobile Healthcare, Paramedicine

    'The accreditation serves as a symbol of excellence'

    By SARAH ROSE • News Writer

    May 7, 2024

    https://www.ainonline.com/aviation-news/general-aviation/2024-05-07/atrium-health-earns-first-accreditation-mobile-healthcare

    The Commission on Accreditation of Medical Transport Services (CAMTS) announced that Atrium Health’s Mobile Integrated Health, Mobile Medicine from Charlotte, North Carolina, is the first entity that has earned full accreditation under CAMTS Mobile Integrated Healthcare (MIH) Accreditation Standards.

    “For Atrium Health’s Mobile Integrated Health team, this accreditation signifies our organization's commitment to providing safe, high-quality medical care by meeting specific criteria related to safety, equipment, quality, training, and operational procedures to patients in our communities. This accreditation serves as a symbol of excellence within the industry, and we are proud to have it.” said Atrium MIH director Amanda Williams.

    For accreditation, the program completes a self-assessment using a standards compliance tool. Once submitted, the standards compliance tool is reviewed for compliance and completeness before site surveyors visit the program to interview the staff.

    “We knew it would be a while after we published the standards for programs to apply and complete the process," said CAMTS executive director Eileen Frazer. "Most programs need as much as a year to prepare documents, policies and procedures, education records, meeting minutes, safety documents, etcetera to meet the standards. We ask for a lot of documentation and interview a lot of people in the program as part of the process.”


  • 3 May 2024 4:26 PM | Matt Zavadsky (Administrator)

    Another example of a growing number of state legislature’s stepping up to make EMS reimbursement reform a priority. 

    This bill not only provides a mechanism for reimbursement for Treatment in Place and Transport to Alternate Destinations, but also removes patients from balance billing disputes by requiring state regulated health plans to reimburse EMS at billed charges, or at least 325% of the Medicare allowable fee.

    It was announced yesterday that Governor Tate Reeves signed this bill into law!

    Link to the legislation below.

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    Bill to increase third-party reimbursements for EMS headed to governor

    By Anthony Warren

    Apr. 24, 2024

    https://www.wlbt.com/2024/04/24/bill-increase-third-party-reimbursements-ems-headed-governor/

    JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - A bill that will increase compensation for ambulance service providers is on its way to the governor’s desk.

    On Wednesday, the state House of Representatives adopted the committee report for H.B. 1489, the “Mississippi Triage, Treat and Transport to Alternative Destination Act,” a bill that would, in part, increase how much insurance companies must pay ambulance firms for services provided.

    The House approved the committee report on a 119-0 vote, with three representatives absent or not voting.

    The Senate approved the report last week on a 50-0 vote, with one senator absent or not voting, and another senator voting present.

    Julia Clarke, president of the Mississippi Ambulance Alliance, was sitting in the House gallery when the measure was approved.

    “With this legislation, Mississippi would join our neighbors [in] Louisiana, Texas, Arkansas, and other states in recognizing this is a first-responder cost-of-readiness issue for ambulance providers large and small,” she said. “I’m so pleased they [passed] it.”

    Under the act, third-party payors would be required to pay for treatment in place when a patient is not transported to a hospital.

    That amount would be the local fees set by the city or county contract or 325 percent of Medicare, whichever is greater. In the absence of a local rate, the ambulance provider would be paid their billed charges or 325 percent of Medicare, whichever is greater, Clarke explained.

    Figures provided by the Ambulance Alliance show EMS providers in the state charge between $988 and $1,224.82 for a basic life support emergency response in urban areas. Medicare reimburses those companies just $398.56.

    Basic Life Support ambulances are staffed with two EMTs, rather than an EMT and a paramedic. EMTs are trained to provide emergency first aid, assess a person’s condition and determine the treatment needed, and administer some medications, such as epinephrine, according to WebMD.

    State Health Officer Dr. Daniel Edney backed the measure, saying the funding will be a major boost for EMS providers, who are currently not paid when a patient refuses transport, or if they’re transported to a facility other than a hospital.

    “If an ambulance goes to a home and there’s a diabetic whose blood sugar has dropped, they correct it and stabilize the patient, and the patient [who needs] to go to the ER chooses not to go, then they’re not reimbursed for the services they just provided, which makes no sense,” he said.

    “They need to be reimbursed for the care that [they’re] rendering and the cost of that care, which includes running an ambulance and doing all the things it takes to have an ambulance ready to go.”

    ----------------

    Governor Tate Reeves signed into law HB1489

    https://billstatus.ls.state.ms.us/documents/2024/pdf/HB/1400-1499/HB1489SG.pdf

    From their legislative team:

    As a summary, the 1489 bill mandates for Health Benefit Plan Private Insurance to:

    • To pay for Treatment in Place (TIP) (lines 61- 96)
    • Pay for trips that are Transported to Alternate Destinations (TAD) (lines 39 -54)
    • The reimbursement rate for an ambulance service provider whose operators assess, triage, treat or transport an enrollee to an alternative destination shall be not less than the minimum allowable reimbursement for advanced life support rate with mileage to the scene. (line 87-91)
    • Out of Network Ambulance to reimbursed for all covered services, which will now include TIP and TAD, at the greater of:
      • Contracted rates between ambulance service and county, municipality, special district or by ordinance (lines 95-103)
      • 325 % of Medicare for respective services originating in the respective geographical area (lines 107-109)
      • The ambulance providers billed charges in the absence of contracted rates between ambulance service and county, municipality, special district or by ordinance (line 104-111)


  • 25 Apr 2024 12:20 PM | Matt Zavadsky (Administrator)


    The importance of receiving the Net Savings to Medicare information from CMS cannot be understated! 

    It serves as a basis for the economic valuation that Congress, as well as state and local governments can use to demonstrate the financial savings of changing the EMS economic model from a reimbursement for TRANSPORT, to reimbursement for on scene Treatment in Place (TIP).

    Release of this data helps facilitate a Congressional request to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) to provide a CBO for current the legislation in the House and Senate to reimburse ambulance agencies for TIP services.

    Links to the full report in the release below.

    Snapshot:






    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

    ET3 Savings Data Supports EMS Treatment in Place Legislation

    Clinton, Miss. — The National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians (NAEMT) received the data in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) (5 U.S.C. § 552) request seeking documents from the recently ended Emergency Triage, Treatment and Transport (ET3) pilot program. The report shows that the average Net Savings to Medicare (NSM) per Medicare beneficiary was $537.53 when a patient was treated-in-place instead of taking an ambulance ride to the hospital emergency room, which is one of the most expensive places to receive health care. 

    EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Newly available federal data from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) demonstrates more than $500 in Net Savings to Medicare per patient encounter under the recently ended ET3 pilot program. The results validate the need for passage of NAEMT-supported federal legislation to enable payment for EMS Treatment in Place (TIP).

    The ET3 program’s per patient savings to the Medicare program was documented in a March 2023 external fiscal analysis presented to CMS as part of the Development of Performance-Based Payment (PBP) Eligibility and Methodology. This data validates the economic value of EMS Treatment in Place (TIP) payment models and the need for Congressional action to enable payment for TIP.

    “This data from CMS’ external evaluator proves the significant savings to the Medicare program. We also have patient experience data from patients enrolled in the ET3 program demonstrating that patients who are not transported to the ER have higher patient satisfaction with the EMS response,” said Matt Zavadsky, Chair of NAEMT’s EMS Economics Committee and a member of the CMS ET3 Model Quality Workgroup. “This proves the economic and patient experience benefit of changing the EMS payment model from payment for transport, to payment for the care we provide.”

    NAEMT has long advocated for providing ambulance agencies the flexibility to navigate patients to the right care in the right setting through federal and state reimbursement of TIP. Medicare currently does not cover TIP as a benefit; therefore, EMS is not reimbursed for care unless a patient is brought to the hospital. The current EMS economic model incentivizes transportation to a hospital emergency department, even when a less expensive level of care is appropriate. 

     Reimbursing EMS agencies for TIP will save Medicare billions of dollars on unnecessary emergency department visits, enhance patient experience, shorten task times for EMS agencies struggling with workforce shortages, help decompress overcrowded hospitals and emergency departments, and meet patients’ needs without long waits at the hospital.

    To view the ET3 economic evaluation, click here.

    To view the current legislation in Congress authorizing CMS to pay for TIP, click here and here.

    About NAEMT

           


  • 27 Mar 2024 7:16 AM | Matt Zavadsky (Administrator)

    Without commenting on the continued frustration of the media referring to ambulance ‘rides’, negating the fact that personnel provide medical care, what this report hints at, but does not specifically state, is that most new state legislation requires insurers to pay essentially billed charges, hence limiting out of pocket expense to the patient’s deductible or coinsurance.

    You can see recently passed state legislation at the National Conference of State Legislatures’ EMS Bill Tracker here: https://www.ncsl.org/health/emergency-medical-services-legislation-database

    Or view other example EMS legislation at NAEMT’s database here: https://naemt.org/advocacy/sample-state-ems-legislation

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    More states are adding protections against big ambulance bills

    March 27, 2024

    Maya Goldman & Tina Reed

    https://www.axios.com/2024/03/27/surprise-medical-bills-ambulance-health-costs

    More states are jumping in to shield patients from large, unexpected bills for ambulance rides in the absence of federal protections.

    Why it matters: Ground ambulances are a major source of surprise bills, and it's unlikely Congress will pursue nationwide protections anytime soon after excluding them from the landmark No Surprises Act in 2020.

    The big picture: Patients in an emergency can hardly shop around for an ambulance covered by insurance. More than half of ambulance rides are out of network, putting patients on the hook for surprise bills that typically cost hundreds of dollars.

    • Congress carved out ground ambulances from its surprise billing legislation that prevents patients from paying more than the in-network cost for care unwittingly received out of network.
    • At the time, it was seen as too challenging to figure out regulation for this unique corner of the health care system, and lawmakers ordered further study.

    Driving the news: Washington state last week became the 16th state to pass consumer protections for ambulance bills, and Indiana's governor signed a similar bill earlier this month.

    How it works: State laws cap patient costs for out-of-network ambulance rides at what the patient would pay if it was covered by insurance, and health plans are on the hook for the rest.

    • Some state laws, like the new one in Washington that takes effect next year, peg health plan charges to local or Medicare rates.
    • Other states, like Delaware and Maine, settle payments through an arbitration system, similar to the federal surprise billing law.
    • Colorado only bans surprise bills at privately run ambulances, which accounted for about 30% of emergency rides nationwide in 2020, per KFF. Meanwhile, Maryland only covers those provided by fire departments and other public agencies.

    The ambulance industry has largely been on board with how states are approaching these laws, Tristan North, a lobbyist for the American Ambulance Association, told Axios.

    • But insurers have raised concerns that some states are setting benchmark rates far above what Medicare pays, said a spokesperson for insurance trade group AHIP.

    Yes, but: The state laws are ultimately limited, because most employer-sponsored health plans — a huge chunk of the private market — fall under federal regulation.

    • "It's good to know that Washington has this new law now, but we're hoping to see it go one step further to the federal level," said Christy Shum, who received a bill for about $7,000 when her infant son was transferred from one hospital to another last year.
    • Shum's employer-sponsored insurance initially covered only about $1,000 for the out-of-network ride, but the charges were eventually wiped without much explanation, Shum said.

    What's next: A commission created by the No Surprises Act to study ground ambulances will soon formally submit recommendations to lawmakers, which will include a $100 cap on patient costs and linking insurer payments to locally regulated rates when possible.

    • President Biden recently called for extending surprise billing protections to ground ambulances, but there's little expectation that lawmakers will take up legislation this year.
    • This Congress has struggled to pass modest bipartisan payment changes, and some of the biggest champions of the No Surprises Act are no longer in office.

    The bottom line: "We really need to build the groundswell of support — more than we already have, apparently — to see Congress address it," said Patricia Kelmar, a director at Public Interest Research Group and member of the federal ambulance billing advisory committee.


  • 25 Mar 2024 10:37 AM | Matt Zavadsky (Administrator)

    A link to download the report is at the end of the report.

    ------------------------------

    Ambulance service in N.H. faces problems from big surprise patient bills to struggling companies

    By DAVID BROOKS

    03-24-2024

    https://www.concordmonitor.com/ambulance-new-hampshire-insurance-54480768

    Ambulance service might be one of the most basic and important parts of the health-care system, but it’s also a financial mess in New Hampshire, both for patients and private companies.

    “We’ve talked to consumers who say, ‘I’ve fallen at home and clearly need to be seen in an emergency room, but I sat there thinking, ‘Can I wait it out, to try and get a family member to take me to the hospital?’ ” said D.J. Bettencourt, commissioner of the New Hampshire Insurance Department. “Someone who is in need of urgent transportation to a hospital should not be having to think about whether or not their particular health coverage is in network with that (ambulance company).”

    A high-profile example occurred in February when a hiker suffering from hypothermia and frostbite was carried off Mount Washington in extreme winter weather following an 11-hour rescue, only to drive himself to the hospital because he feared how much an ambulance ride would cost.

    At the same time, Bettencourt said, “We began seeing reports this summer that private ambulance providers were experiencing significant financial distress … particularly in rural areas of the state.”

    One issue is that around 80% of transportation covers people using Medicare or Medicaid, “which do not pay anywhere near” the cost, Bettencourt said. That’s particularly true in rural areas, where spread-out population makes it very expensive for a private, profit-driven company to maintain 24/7 coverage.

    Municipal services, which are part of fire department or other emergency service budgets, see less immediate financial straits but face many of the overall headwinds, he said.

    Problems like these are not unique to New Hampshire and have caused legislators in Washington and Concord to consider various changes to billing, network assignments and reimbursement rates, including some bills percolating through the State House. They also prompted the state Insurance Department to hold an “ambulance summit” that has resulted in a lengthy report issued Friday carrying a number of recommendations for lawmakers to consider.

    “This is a perfect opportunity to talk about an issue that has lingered on for … two decades now,” said Bettencourt.

    One thing that is clear, he said: “We’re going to need higher (reimbursement) rates (from insurers), particularly in the rural and super-rural areas of the state.”

    The report makes several recommendations.

    One is to ban on “balance billing,” in which patients have to pay the difference between the ambulance service cost and the amount that the insurance company will cover. The difference can be hundreds or even thousands of dollars if the patient’s health insurance doesn’t consider the ambulance firm to be part of the network.

    That is a particular problem, said Deputy Insurance Commissioner Keith Nyhan, because particularly in rural areas, there’s often only one ambulance service available.

    “In an emergency situation in particular, consumers have no option to choose whether the ambulance company is in-network or out-of-network. They just show up,” Nyhan said.

    Consumers concerned about a balance bill can call the Insurance Department’s consumer service hotline, 800-852-3416 or email consumerservices@ins.nh.gov to get help.

    Also recommended in the report is direct payment, a big desire for ambulance providers.

    The problem, Bettencourt said, is that when insurance companies cut a reimbursement check for the ambulance provider they sent it to the patient who owns the policy, and expect the patient to pay the ambulance.

    “In many cases the consumer is unsure why they’ve gotten this check and run off with it. They think, ‘Oh, this must be a reimbursement’ … so it never makes its way to the provider,” he said.

    Both of those suggestions have been included in separate bills making their way through the legislature.

    The recommendation says that the changes should be part of overall changes to the system that include gathering better data from all providers, private and public, and doing a better job monitoring costs and availability of service.

    Congress is also considering legislation to limit balance billing for ground ambulances, although it’s unclear when or if that will go through.

    The full report can be found on the New Hampshire Insurance Department website at https://www.nh.gov/insurance/reports/documents/nhid-ambulance-summit-final-report-20240319.pdf.


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